The Adventure Club
Blakeney Old Wild Rovers
The Celebration Band
Joan and Ken Saul
Soundwaves Community Singers
THE ADVENTURE CLUB
John and Sue Griffiths and Mike Barber, a popular vocal trio on the Norfolk music scene in the 1990s, have reunited especially for SamFest 2015. They will be reviving and adding to their wide repertoire of traditional and modern songs.
John, from Bedfordshire, Sue from Sunderland and Mike originally from Norwich, are also well-known as solo singers and for several years were members of shanty and sea songs group The Mollyhawks. John and Sue also appeared as a duo at the 2014 Walter Pardon Centenary Festival.
The couple's adventures in recent years have included crewing aboard the tall ship The Grand Turk. Mike meanwhile has kept his adventurous feet firmly on the ground - searching rural Norfolk with his metal detector for treasure!
THE ADVENTURE CLUB
From the left, John Griffiths, Sue Griffiths and Mike Barber
BLAKENEY OLD WILD ROVERS
The Old Wild Rovers started life in the Morston Anchor pub in 1999 and sing shanties, sea and folk songs, while the "orchestra" adds jigs, reels, polkas and morris tunes. Current members are Gary Mears, Barrie Slegg, Tom Harrison, Brin Siller, Linda Chapman, Robbie Nash, Peter Fisher, Phil Harrison, Pip Banham, Peter Thompson and John Dunkerton.
Over the years the group has raised about £185,000 for local charities and good causes. 100% of money raised for charity goes to the charity. The Rovers' chosen charities for 2015 include Tapping House Hospice, Wells Lifeboat Appeal, Cromer RNLI and Papworth Hospital Trust. The Rovers have also released four CDs, with all proceeds going to charity.
BLAKENEY OLD WILD ROVERS
Shanties, sea and folk songs
Tony Fitzharris (guitar and vocals), Mike Thomas (banjo and vocals) and Kelly Woods (guitar and vocals) were all regulars at the monthly Uncle Walter's Music Night session in North Walsham - playing a wide range of music between them.
In 2013 they got together as Uncle Walter's All-Stars to play a very contemporary set at a folk concert at North Walsham's Atrium arts centre. They performed again at the UWMN Christmas party in 2013 and last year became a quartet with the addition of another UWMN regular, Emma Barber (fiddle and guitar).
Their appearance at SamFest 2015 will be only their third public gig and the first under their new name - Blue Wing.
From the left, Tony Fitzharris, Kelly Woods, Mike Thomas and Emma Barber
Dave, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was one of the impressive crop of new young singers - along with Nic Jones, Tony Rose and John Kirkpatrick - to emerge on the English folk scene in the late 1960s on Bill Leader's exciting Trailer label. His first LP, A Dalesman's Litany, an album of traditional songs, was voted Melody Maker Folk Album Of The Year in 1971 but Dave soon widened his repertoire to include contemporary songs by Randy Newman, Cyril Tawney, David Ackles, Mike Waterson and more.
After eight years as a solo performer, Dave joined Hedgehog Pie in 1976, helping to record their final LP, Just Act Normal. During this time he also recorded Songs of Ewan MacColl with Tony Capstick and Dick Gaughan. In 1992, Burland tackled 14 songs by Richard Thompson with great skill on His Master's Choice, and also joined Sara Grey and Roger Wilson in the Lost Nation Band.
Dave revisited the MacColl song Shoals of Herring - about the life of Sam Larner - on his much acclaimed solo album Benchmark. He has also hosted folk shows on BBC and independent local radio, as well as organizing folk festivals in Leeds. Dave has also appeared as session player on albums by folk artists including Mike Harding, Bob Pegg and Nic Jones.
A versatile and respected singer-guitarist
THE CELEBRATION BAND
The Celebration Band, featuring six of Norfolk's most talented musicians, were first brought together by Alan Helsdon in 2014 as The Walter Pardon Centenary Band to play Walter's tunes at the festival in his honour. The members are: Alan Helsdon (keyboards), Richard Blake (hammered dulcimer), Chris Holderness and David Strover (fiddles), Cass Devlin (melodeon) and Dave Devlin (banjo and melodeon).
When SamFest 2015 was first being planned the six readily agreed to learn the tunes of many of Sam's songs. Alan is well-known on the local folk scene as a singer, musician and songwriter, and Richard and Chris are members of the Rig-A-Jig-Jig band.
THE CELEBRATION BAND
From the left, Alan Helsdon, Richard Blake, Chris Holderness,
David Strover, Cass Devlin and Dave Devlin
Author and expert on The Radio Ballads
Peter Cox started writing when he retired from a life in computing. His second book, Set Into Song - Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker, Peggy Seeger and the Radio Ballads, came about because of his fascination with the eight Radio Ballad programmes, and was triggered by a chance meeting with Peggy Seeger after a concert.
He now gives presentations on the Radio Ballads, and has several times interviewed Peggy about that amazing collaboration which began nearly 60 years ago when she was barely 20. He is now about to publish his fifth book, Growing Up In London 1930-1960, based on interviews with over 100 members of the U3A.
Traditional Norfolk step dancer
Like Sam Larner, Fiona was born into a Norfolk fishing family - although in Cromer where crabs are the speciality rather than Winterton and its herrings. The Davies family has also provided many members of the Cromer Lifeboat crew and Fiona's late father, Richard, was coxswain for many years.
The family - like the Larners - were step dancers and Fiona was taught the traditional style by her grandfather - following in the steps (literally) of her dad Richard. Fiona will be dancing at SamFest to the music of The Celebration Band - and probably at any other gatherings of musicians who know a good set of tunes. Fiona also keeps up the Davies tradition of singing - especially Norfolk - folk songs.
Jan Hurst (vocals and accordion) and Barbara Donnelly (vocals and melodeon) started singing together when they were members of the Pump House women's clog morris side in Watford. They sang regularly as Elles Belles at the local folk clubs including the Pump House and the famous Herga and supported other folk singers in various concerts as well as heading their own concert in Russia when the morris team was invited there. Jan and Barbara also sang in Germany when town twinning organisers wanted English folk songs and tunes.
They sing mainly English traditional songs, unaccompanied and usually in two-part harmony. Although they have not made any commercial recordings they were once on a cable TV programme called Floorspots. Jan now lives in Wales and Barbara in Norfolk where she plays melodeon for the Fiddlesticks women's clog morris side. The two still sing together at occasional events or over the phone!
Barbara Donnelly (left) and Jan Hurst
Tony is one of the true treasures of the East Anglian folk scene. Growing up in Beccles, Suffolk, his first instrument was the mouth organ but it was a Hohner melodeon which became his passion at the age of 11. He taught himself at home, learning all sort of tunes off the radio, and was first introduced to folk music during a (failed) teacher training course at Matlock in Derbyshire. Abandoning guitar he realised that a melodeon, too, was acceptable in a folk club.
"Later in life, I would say that the most important musical influence was regularly attending Rod and Danny Stradling's wonderful Kings Head folk Club in Islington. There, week after week, one could experience all the terrific traditional music of these islands."
Tony appeared with Maddy Prior and June Tabor on their first Silly Sisters album, and subsequent tour , and on Nic Jones' award-winning Penguin Eggs album. Tony also joined Nic on his appearance earlier this year at Norwich Arts Centre. He has released three solo albums, backed other folkies including Shirley Collins, Peter Bellamy, Royston Wood and the Kipper family on albums, appeared regularly at Whitby and Sidmouth folk festivals, and plays weekly with his Von Krapp Family Band in a Norwich pub.
As well as being a maestro of the melodeon he is a consummate entertainer - writing many charming and idiosyncratic songs. Tony now lives in rural Norfolk and away from music is the popular cartoonist for the Eastern Daily Press.
Melodeon maestro, singer and songwriter
Helping to keep the Norfolk folk tradition alive
Chris says: "I have long been performing the traditional music of East Anglia. It is wonderful that there is so much material to draw on, with regard to dance tunes, songs and the dances themselves. It is gratifying to be able to keep current this material and perform it on a regular basis. As well as singing songs and playing tunes on the fiddle, and calling for country dances, my deep-seated interest in this local music heritage has led me to conduct on-going research into Norfolk's traditional musical history."
Much of that work is with the Rig-a-Jig-Jig research group - with the results performed by the Rig-a-Jig-Jig band. Chris also supplied the comprehensive notes in the booklet to Cruising Round Yarmouth - the 1958-60 Sam Larner recordings released on a 2CD set by Musical Traditions earlier this year.
Gemma is a singer and guitarist from the Midlands now based in north Norfolk, playing and singing traditional songs of the British Isles, and creating her own songs inspired by rural poets. Gemma's arrangements of traditional songs emphasise the universal stories and themes found in folk traditions and sensitively draw out the richness and beauty of the old melodies. Over the past two years Gemma has been building up appearances at folk festivals, clubs and venues across the UK.
Gemma was the winner of the 2013 Islington Folk ClubTrad2Mad unaccompanied song competition and was one of the local performers in musical Norfolk library talks about the songs and lives of Walter Pardon (2014) and Sam Larner (2015). She also appeared at last year's Walter Pardon Centenary Festival.
Gemma Khawaja's music is available via bandcamp.
Traditional songs telling universal stories
Singer-songwriter and guitarist
Singer-guitarist Anto Morra (Anthony Morrissey) tells his life story in musical style on his excellent debut LP and CD Never Had To Shout. Raised in London by Irish parents, Anto's background provides a theme that runs throughout the album - focusing on being caught between the UK and Irish cultures often opposed in the late '70s & '80s.
After youthful years on the London punk scene Anto moved to Norfolk and ran a sing-around folk club - moving into a more acoustic musical world. Over the years Anto has performed not only at Glastonbury Festival and noted London venues but also Holkham Hall, Norfolk, and The Guinness Hop Store Museum in Dublin. Last year he released his latest CD EP The Patriot.
JOAN AND KEN SAUL
JOAN AND KEN SAUL
Ken and Joan were founder members of Norfolk electric folk band Stone Angel in 1974 and continue to perform with the band, more than 40 years on, writing most of the group's new material. They occasionally appear as an acoustic duo and Joan also sings with Norfolk acapella harmony group Scunsulata - also appearing at SamFest 2015.
Ken's early song-writing skills were recognised with a recent feature in Record Collector magazine and the subsequent reissue of his 1971 album Seashells on both vinyl and CD. Between them Ken and Joan play guitar, cittern, dulcimer, flute, accordion, recorders and crumhorn. The duo's songs are a mix of local traditional folk songs, alongside some of their own, rooted in the tradition but incorporating various influences. Ken and Joan also research local traditional music, especially in their home village of Filby.
This is a busy summer for Scunsulata - a 16-strong group of singers, based in north-east Norfolk, singing unaccompanied a diverse range of songs from around the world. As well as several concerts and festival appearances, the group - formed in 2012 - released its debut CD in July.
Scunsulata means "inconsolable" in Corsican, and the group delight in songs that explore the darker side of life, misery and death, alongside some rather more cheerful material. The group's repertoire includes American shape-note and gospel music, British and European medieval and renaissance songs, English West Gallery music, folk songs and carols, Georgian and Corsican polyphony, and African songs, mostly with dances. Scunsulata, led by Stephanie Anderson, also sing material composed within the group.
Songs from around the world
International folk singer and musician
Peggy Seeger is returning to Norfolk and Winterton, more than 50 years after recording Sam Larner singing, and in conversation, with Ewan MacColl. Born in 1935 in New York, Peggy comes from a famous folk music family. She is daughter of American folklorist Ruth Crawford Seeger and half-sister of the late Pete Seeger. Peggy's first life-partner was the Salford playwright and songwriter Ewan MacColl, who wrote First Time Ever I Saw Your Face for her and to whom she bore three children. She has nine grandchildren.
A multi-instrumentalist, Peggy is known for her excellent renditions of Anglo-American folksongs and for her activist song-writing, especially in the fields of feminism and ecology. Her best-known songs are Gonna Be an Engineer and The Ballad of Springhill, often regarded as a traditional song. After living 35 years in England, Peggy returned to the USA in 1994 and settled in North Carolina. She moved to Boston (USA) in 2006 to teach song-writing at Northeastern University. Peggy moved back to England (Oxford) in 2010. She tours extensively in the UK and occasionally in the USA, Canada and Australia as a solo artist, singing and giving workshops.
She has made 23 solo recordings and has participated in more than 100 recordings with other artists, one of whom is her second life-partner Irene Pyper-Scott. In 1998 she published The Peggy Seeger Songbook, Forty Years of Songmaking (Oak Publications) including 150 of her songs. Her latest CD, Everything Changes, was released in 2014 to great critical acclaim with the track Swim to the Star, written with her son Calum MacColl, named best original new song at the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Alan Helsdon, caller, and
Alan Sissons, accordionist
Ceilidh and barn dance duo Small Fry have the honour of serving up the first musical course of SamFest 2015 with a lively set of tunes to get everyone dancing. The duo comprises Alan Helsdon, "a well-marinated caller with 20 years local experience" and Alan Sissons, "an accordionist who's been pumping away for even longer".
They say: "Catering only for up to 100 people, we can guarantee a good feast of dancing. Serve through an amplifier that's never too loud and you have Small Fry. It's the nouvelle cuisine of country dance - small but beautifully formed!"
SOUNDWAVES COMMUNITY SINGERS
Soundwaves Community Singers are an enthusiastic singing-for-fun mixed group who meet on Thursday evenings to practise in Hemsby Pavilion. Leader Sarah Welsh says: "We believe everyone can hold a tune and singing is not only good for your health, but fun to be enjoyed by all. There are no auditions, and no need to read music."
For SamFest 2015 Soundwaves are to perform a special programme of sea songs - including some from Sam Larner's repertoire - and will also accompany fellow festival guests Joan and Ken Saul on some of their compositions.
SOUNDWAVES COMMUNITY SINGERS
Songs of the sea and from Sam Larner